Sign of the Times-Codified Robbery

With the possible exception of the John Dillinger era, Americans have long held confidence in a system of justice which brings swift and certain punishment to those who decide to rob banks.  But Congressional Republicans have now shown that our national bank, the U.S. Treasury, can be robbed via the stroke of a president’s pen with nary a whimper from party faithful. Call it the biggest heist of all time.

For decades, the mostly wealthy Republican members of Congress have been adept at disguising their utter contempt for America’s working class. But no more. These savvy politicians have seen the handwriting on the wall–indicating their impending demise–and along with their mega donors and lobbyist friends have decided to openly and brazenly plunder the national treasury to the tune of 1.5 trillion dollars on their way out of office.  The only matter left open for discussion is the confusing logic of why blue color Republicans continued to act against self-interest by supporting and electing people who had planned all along to stab them in the back.

Following an embarrassing procedural gaffe on the previous day, Republicans in the House of Representatives on December 20, 2017 gave final approval to a major upheaval of United States tax code.  The bill was passed by a 224-201 margin, with no Democrats voting in approval. Likewise, the bill had passed in the early morning hours of the same day in the Senate by a 51-48 margin, again, with no Democrats in support of the measure.

An earlier CNN poll revealed that 55 per cent of Americans were opposed to passage of the bill, while 33 per cent supported it.  Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN that Republicans would try to sell the bill to the public in the coming months. McConnell further said: “My view of this, if we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work.” As of now, a majority of Americans stand ready to show him the way to the unemployment office.

Among other things, the plan reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent, repeals the corporate alternative minimum tax, doubles the standard deduction for individuals and restructures the way pass through businesses are taxed. Further, the bill keeps seven personal income tax brackets and lowers tax rates for most brackets, including dropping the top rate from 39.6 per cent to 37 per cent.

The Joint Committee on Taxation found that all income groups will, on average, see a tax cut in 2019, but projections worsen over time. In 2019, all taxpayers would see an 8 per cent tax cut.  However, the JCT found that by 2027 taxpayers earning up to $75,000 would receive a tax increase–this would stem from the sunsetting individual rate cuts in the final GOP bill, along with the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate.

The compiled document consists of more than 1,000 pages. Most of the Republicans who voted for this bill had only a general knowledge of what the document contained, but in a specific sense, were entirely unaware of some provisions added at the last minute by lobbyists intent on feathering the nest of wealthy individuals at the expense of middle class taxpayers. Absent a repeal of the entire piece of legislation, these secret, last minute addendums will cause nightmares for honest people for years, or perhaps even decades.

A good example of the foregoing fiasco is the last minute sweetener inserted during the reconciliation conference, which personally benefits Bob Corker (R-Tenn). The “Corker Kickback” provision (so named by critics of the Senator), according to International Business Times allows owners of real estate businesses to take a special 20 per cent deduction for so-called pass-through income.  The deduction had originally been designed to exclude businesses like real estate partnerships, which often have few employees. The publication also pointed to several real estate partnerships Corker has stakes in and estimated the tax bill could save him more than $1 million. Who said it doesn’t pay to change your vote from a “no” to “yes”?

Ominous warnings are even coming from wealthy Americans. In an opinion editorial dated November 30, 2017, Abigail Disney, the grandniece of film giant Walt Disney, stated:

Although I was raised amid privilege and good fortune, I have always been cognizant of income and wealth inequality. It has never sat well with me. Since the election of Ronald Reagan, the gap between rich and poor has grown dramatically and “trickle down” economics has turned out to cause more of a trickle up. But nothing has brought the problem of inequality into sharper focus for me than the current proposals by Republicans to overhaul the tax system.​Right now, under both House and Senate tax plans, the result of the overhaul will be to increase the proportional burden of public spending on an already strained middle class, to decrease the responsibility of the wealthy to contribute to the common good, and to further widen the gulf that already separates the two. Republicans insist this plan will cut taxes for the middle class, but the truth is that any meager savings will be offset by losses elsewhere — in deductions no longer allowed, loss of Medicaid and Medicare coverage, and less funding for education, all of which are on the chopping block in order to provide a tax cut for a few very wealthy people like me.

Beginning in 2018, middle class taxpayers will notice a bump of about 20 to 40 dollars in weekly take home pay as a result of the “Tax Reform Act” of 2017.  This will allow them to purchase pizza for their family one night a week. But this paltry annual sum of perhaps two thousand dollars pales in comparison to the millions that wealthy individuals will receive each year from this greed inspired act.

Wages have been stagnant since the 2008 recession, and contrary to the fear mongering tripe of malign nationalists, Americans have never objected to immigrants crossing our borders to pick pickles and harvest apples. White Americans don’t want those jobs.  What they do want is something better than the $30,000.00 per year job with which they now attempt to support a family of four.  Republicans continue this harangue about jobs being exported to other countries, when the real culprit is automation.  Experts legitimately claim that 80 per cent of the jobs lost in America are the result of computer driven automation.

What Americans have objected to is employers importing foreign nationals to fill jobs that pay over $100,000.00 per year instead of training Americans to fill the positions. Common sense tells us that even this administration’s much heralded coal miners would rather have a decent education and a job that comfortably supports their family. But Republicans, as this “tax reform” indicates, are not interested in education–unless it somehow lines their pockets with a new windfall.

Nevertheless, appropriate retribution will be exacted in the national elections slated for 2018. Democrats have already shown an ability, both to unseat indifferent Republicans holding gerrymandered districts in Virginia,  and to deny a disgustingly unfit candidate federal office in Alabama. 2018 will be a political blood bath. But preparations for this reversal should come immediate.

There are nine states that have constitutions which authorize removal of federal officers. No case involving this subject matter has been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, but most attorneys general of these states have issued opinions which deny such a right.  However, in 1979 the Wisconsin Attorney General issued an opinion stating that “a state administration could not reject a petition for recall of a member of the U.S. Congress.” Thus it would behoove the people of Wisconsin to initiate a recall petition against one of the authors of this unconscionable transfer of funds from the poor to the rich, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (currently finishing the first year of a six year term), and let the Supreme Court settle the issue.

These self-absorbed merchants of greed are intent upon proving a new theory; that one can wear more than one suit at one time, or, one can eat more than one mouthful of food at one time. So John Q. Public will enjoy pizza for a few short years, while the real beneficiaries of this scam will not be creating jobs as Republicans claim, but instead, will be purchasing new interest bearing investments with funds derived from the most corrupt legislative act in the history of this constitutional republic.


Truman Goodspeed, December 2017

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